First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Michael Rappaport: We’re getting used to the new normal. It’s all relative. All of our Chariot family is well. The business climate is challenging, of course, but we are more than managing. We’re not up to normal levels, but we’re doing just fine. We’re all pulling together and working harder.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Chariot Solutions
Michael Rappaport: I am passionate about applying technology to business through software. I’ve been on a path for this particular job since I was a young kid when I first learned about capitalism and entrepreneurship. I did not realize it, but everything led to building my own company. That company was meant to be a marriage between tech and business. My decisions were always directed at getting to the point where I could start my own company.
How does Chariot Solutions innovate?
Michael Rappaport: Innovation at Chariot happens in many ways, but the common theme is the team. In order to capitalize on individual strengths and talents, we collaborate as a group. We make decisions as a management team. We brainstorm together, we plan together. Our people have great vision and ideas. And the ideas come from every level. So my job is facilitating, listening and asking by getting everyone together frequently.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?
Michael Rappaport: Our customers, in many different industries, were significantly affected. Most had hiring freezes. Contractors and third party consultants went home. We are fortunate that our customers view us as essential, and that comes back to our value proposition. Our people are so good that our customers can’t afford to do without us.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Michael Rappaport: We’ve always been a conservative company. Being in business for the last 18 years has given us many challenges, but no one has lived through this type of downturn before, so past lessons don’t always apply to this particular time. We have had to make difficult choices throughout the past several months. And what works really well at Chariot, whether there’s a pandemic or other crisis, always goes back to the team. I’m super proud of our decision making. I’ve learned a lot of lessons from our team. I’m truly thankful for the conservative nature of my management team. Their influence has enabled us to through this period without losing much sleep.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Chariot Solutions in the future?
Michael Rappaport: To me, stress and anxiety can be minimized by proper perspective. Consider the best and worst-case scenarios, along with the most likely outcome, and you can avoid the unpleasant surprises that cause stress.
Accept things that have already happened and those that are out of my control, and determine the best path forward.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Michael Rappaport: Our main competitors are high end consulting firms. We don’t find that we compete with the generalists who are less deep technically. There are big firms that have all different levels of people, like Accenture. We compete with them, and that’s who we should be compared with. But at the same time, we compete with the internal teams.
In many cases, our customers would love to be able to take care of everything on their own. So for us, that just means always staying ahead through the investment we make in professional development and constant learning. We dedicate a significant percentage of our time to advancing so that we are on the leading edge. I haven’t noticed other firms doing this, which gives us an edge.
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